World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy set to be cancelled

The competition was scheduled to take place in Northern Italy this summer.

THE 2020 WORLD Rugby U20 Championship, which was scheduled to take place in Italy this summer, is set to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The42 understands that a decision was reached earlier this week to cancel the tournament, which was due to kick-off in late June and extend into mid-July.

The decision, which is set to be officially announced in the coming days, had been widely expected due to the severity of the Covid-19 crisis in Italy.

world-rugby-under-20-championship-branding Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO The World Rugby U20 Championship is set to be cancelled. Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

The U20 Championship was scheduled to be played in Calvisano, Verona and Viadana in the north of Italy, where the outbreak has been particularly bad.

As such, the Federazione Italiana Rugby [FIR] and World Rugby are understood to have reached a decision to cancel the competition.

It is not expected that the championship will be rescheduled for later this year, with the already jam-packed nature of the rugby calendar making that prospect unrealistic, while the young players due to be involved in Italy this summer will also have hopes and plans to continue their development with provincial and club teams next season.

The confirmation will come as a disappointment to Noel McNamara’s current Ireland U20s squad, who were on course for a Grand Slam after three wins from three games in this year’s Six Nations until their remaining two fixtures were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While some of this year’s U20s may get another opportunity at this age grade next year and will hope to feature at the 2021 World Championship, most will be overage and are therefore set to miss out on their chance to play on the global stage due to the cancellation of this summer’s tournament.

It remains to be seen if the Ireland U20s get a chance to play their two postponed Six Nations games against Italy and France, given that they remain shrouded in doubt due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19.

If travel restrictions and social distancing measures are lifted in the coming months, it would be expected that some national U20 teams may play against each other in newly-arranged fixtures.

However, even that prospect remains uncertain in the current climate.

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